when i mix my music, i always turn down all the tracks faders, so my final stereo head room will be around -20 db. then i add limiter and add something around 14 db , so my final lufs will be somewhere around -6 db (the numbers are not accurate) . but i wonder , if i dont pull down the faders too harsh , so for example my final head room would be at -10 db, then i add 4db with limiter, so my final lufs will be -6 db, is there any difference between these two methodes or they are the same? i mean is there any difference to how much i add db gain when i limiting? (i mean both of times my last lufs is -6 db. ). anybody know? thanks

  • My guess would be that there is a chance of introducing noise when you "handle" the signal more (as in the first scenario), but I am not an expert in audio! – The Chaz 2.0 Jan 26 '18 at 1:01
  • What’s a luf? Also 20 dB is a lot of headroom and depending on the summing algorithm your software uses you might get better sound quality by pushing it a bit more. What DAW are you using and what limiter? – Todd Wilcox Jan 26 '18 at 6:00
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    Ok, figured out what LUFS means. I’m not sure if that’s caught on in the US yet. I don’t think Pro Tools has a LUFS meter yet. If you have a LUFS meter that reads -6 then that actually sounds really hot. You might shoot for more like -12 to -8. Coming into the stereo bus at -20 LUFS is actually a good idea, in fact if I understand LUFS correctly, audio for film and TV is usually delivered at around -20 LUFS. You might check out k metering also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-system – Todd Wilcox Jan 26 '18 at 6:13
  • hi todd.i use cubase and waves WLM pluse for my LUFS. its like RMS but from what i learned its more truthful to human ears than RMS. and you can also use this for broadcasting. they use -23 db for europe music brodcasting. but i only use it for my output loudness measuerment. and i am agree. -6 or -7 db is too hot and it will kill some of my dynamic for sure. but the problem is if i dont make it too loud, it wont be able to compete to other musics, when you listen it on mobiles. – dana Jan 26 '18 at 10:50

Theoretically yes, they should both give the same results. The only time the limiter should be changing the sound in any significant way is when it is reducing the volume of the peaks. Simply turning the volume down and then back up should not change the sound.

You can verify that they are the same by trying the following:

  1. Mixdown your project to a stereo wave file for both versions
  2. Create a new project and import the two wave files onto two separate tracks
  3. Flip the polarity of one of the tracks (make sure to flip both the left and right channels)
  4. Play both tracks together

If they are indeed identical then they will completely cancel each other out and you won't hear anything when these two tracks play together. However, if you do hear something, then that means they are producing different reults and what you hear is what is different between the two versions.

  • It’s clear but I’m concerned that it might not be correct. Some summing algorithms will perform differently with different level signals, which means sending a hotter signal to the stereo master channel before limiting might sound better or worse. Also different limiters may respond differently. Certainly in the analog domain gain staging is critical. It’s still important in the digital domain but in different ways. – Todd Wilcox Jan 26 '18 at 6:03
  • but limiter only add gain to my overall mix. right? i mean it could be different when i use comperesor or other plugins. but limiter? i dont know. by the way, i use izotope and fab filter limiters. – dana Jan 26 '18 at 10:55
  • @dana A limiter by itself does not add gain. It reduces levels that exceed a certain limit, which is why it's called a limiter. A lot of "mastering" limiter plugins have a feature called makeup turned on by default. What that does is increases the overall level of the sound by the same amount as the maximum reduction that the limiter would cause. Like with Izotope Ozone, if you put the max at -1 dB and the threshold at -7 dB, the max limiting will be 6 dB, so it will automatically increase the level of the whole thing by 6 dB and then limit anything that goes above -1 dB. – Todd Wilcox Jan 26 '18 at 16:27
  • @Todd Wilcox, I just varified this myself in Samplitude. I did the comparison within one project using submix tracks instead of mixing down to wave files (but same effect as above). I duplicated 4 tracks and sent each group to different submix tracks. Each track for 1st group was turned down -20dB and the submix limiter (sMax11 in Samplitude) added 20dB. The 2nd group of tracks was turned down -10dB and the submix limiter added 10dB. I flipped the phase of one of the submix tracks and played them both together. The result did not register on the volume meter, which varifies they are identical. – Tekkerue Jan 26 '18 at 17:28
  • There might be limiters and DAWs where it is not true, that's all I'm saying. Certainly if one uses one of those virtual summing amps that recreates a classic console, I would expect it to be definitely not true. The whole point of those virtual summing amps is that they won't have 100% linear response over the whole range of input. – Todd Wilcox Jan 26 '18 at 17:29

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